In 1996, Burton left the Stavola Brothers for Roush Racing. Driving the #99 Exide Batteries Ford for his new team, he finished 13th overall in the season standings despite failing to qualify for the Purolator 500 in March as a new team (provisionals in the first four races were based on 1995 points, and Burton's team did not have points from 1995). His career hit a peak from 1997 to 2000, as he never finished lower than 5th in the points standings. He achieved his first career win in 1997, finishing first in the Interstate Batteries 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (the inaugural NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway), and would go on to win 14 more races during the four-year run. In 1999, Burton won a career-high and series-leading six races, including the Jiffy Lube 300 for a third straight year, and clinched two of the series' four majors (Coca-Cola 600 and the 50th Annual Southern 500), which would lead to a fifth-place finish in points. His best points finish was in 2000, when he finished 3rd, 294 points behind champion Bobby Labonte. On September 17, 2000, Burton led every lap of the Dura Lube 300 sponsored by Kmart at New Hampshire International Speedway. From 1997 to 2000, Burton won an event at NHIS every year. The following year, in 2001, Burton won another two races, upping his career total to 17, as he finished tenth in points.
In 2006, Burton won the pole for four races, bringing his total number of career pole wins to six. The four pole wins were for the Daytona 500, the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Prior to qualifying for the Daytona 500, Burton was extremely enthusiastic about the improvements to RCR as a whole. He proved this by winning his first pole since September 2000 at Richmond. The Allstate 400 pole gave Richard Childress Racing the front row as teammate Clint Bowyer recorded the second fastest time. Burton's best finish came in the Chicagoland race where he recorded a second place finish. He led the most laps at Indianapolis and Bristol's Sharpie 500, setting the pace for more than half the race. In the Busch Series, he won at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway, breaking his four year long winless streak in any series. After the race at Richmond International Raceway Jeff qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup. During the Chase, Burton won the Dover 400 at Dover International Speedway, breaking a 175-race winless streak dating back to October 28, 2001, allowing him to take the points lead. However, a series of relatively poor finishes in subsequent races all but eliminated Burton from contention for the championship.
Despite a strong start to the 2007 season, Burton faded down the summer stretch. Despite finishing in the top 10 five of the last six races Burton still finished 8th in the final standings. Jeff Burton also won NASCAR person of the year award.
Burton won the 2008 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Following contact between Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart, Burton passed both Harvick and Stewart for the 2nd position. On the ensuing restart Burton passed Denny Hamlin coming off of Turn 2 to win the Food City 500.
After trying and failing to persuade NASCAR to approve the addition of the AT&T globe logo to the rear of the car, AT&T filed a lawsuit against NASCAR on March 16, 2007. On May 18, AT&T won a preliminary injunction and, following a failed emergency motion for a stay by NASCAR on May 19, rebranded the #31 car in time for the Nextel All-Star Challenge that evening. NASCAR was later granted an appeal to be heard on August 2.
On June 17, NASCAR announced it had filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit against AT&T and would like AT&T and all other telecommunications companies out of the sport in 2008. It should be noted that the other rival company involved, Alltel, was in the process of being sold.
On August 13, a ruling by a federal appeals court cleared the way for NASCAR to prevent AT&T Inc. from featuring its logo on Jeff Burton's No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. The court, therefore, threw out a lower court's ruling that prevented NASCAR from stopping AT&T's plans. The appeals court remanded the case to the U.S. District Court in Atlanta.
At first practice for the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 24, the #31 car had no AT&T branding, but the familiar orange and black paint scheme. Burton's pit crew wore grey Richard Childress Racing shirts and Burton wore a plain orange fire suit displaying only small associate sponsor logos. The car arrived in a black hauler with only the number 31 on the side. NASCAR officials said the car would not have made it through inspection with the AT&T logos.
On September 7, 2007 NASCAR announced that an agreement had been reached between Sprint Nextel and Richard Childress Racing which would allow AT&T to sponsor the No. 31 car through the end of the 2008 season. Under the terms of the agreement Burton will have to find a new sponsor by 2009. On June 18, 2008, it was announced that RCR had secured sponsorship for the 31 of Jeff Burton. Caterpillar, which previously spent 10 years on the #22 of Bill Davis Racing and with Jeff's brother Ward driving from 1999-2003, has signed a multi-year agreement with Richard Childress Racing to become the new primary sponsor of the 31 starting in 2009.
JEFF BURTON'S KEY TO SUCCESS WILL BE IN CLOSING THE DEAL COMMUNICATION AND LATE-RACE ADJUSTMENTS OFTEN DETERMINE WHO FINISHES FIRST.(SPORTS)
Mar 10, 1999; Byline: DUSTIN LONG, STAFF WRITER Two weeks ago, Jeff Burton had the dominant car in the NASCAR Winston Cup race at Rockingham...